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Louis Garneau Bicycle Helmet Cover

I try to not let the weather dictate when I ride my bike. When the temperature drops or it starts raining I just make adjustments to my clothing and go out for a ride anyway. One item you really need to own for inclement weather riding is a good helmet cover, and my favorite one is the Louis Garneau Bicycle Helmet Cover (H-Cover).

Louis Garneau Bicycle Helmet Cover for rain and winter

Louis Garneau Bicycle Helmet Cover

The Louis Garneau Bicycle Helmet Cover is made of a very breathable Stopzone fabric and it does a fantastic job of blocking both wind and rain. This cover stretches to fit all the helmets I own (Bell, Trek, Louis Garneau and a Giro). You might have tried other helmet covers before, but most of the covers on the market that I’ve tried don’t fit my helmet very well. Last year I bought an illumiNITE Helmet Cover and the best I can tell it was patterned after my grandmother’s shower cap—I don’t know who designed it, but they apparently had never seen a bicycle helmet before.

The Louis Garneau Bicycle Helmet Cover is available in two colors: Black or Bright Yellow (Hi-Vis Yellow). Both colors of this helmet have reflective piping to help motorists see you in low-light situations. I wear the bright yellow cover when I am riding on the road because it is hard for drivers to miss. When I am riding on muddy off-road trails I wear the black helmet cover because it will still look good after I wipe the mud off.

With a good balaclava (like the Seirus Combo Clava) and the Louis Garneau helmet cover I have no trouble keeping my head warm in temperatures down to around 20 degrees. When the temperature drops to below 20 degrees I switch over to a skiing helmet (I prefer the Smith Optics Variant Brim Snow Helmet).

The Louis Garneau Bicycle Helmet Cover is available in two sizes: Small/Medium and Medium/Large. This helmet cover retails for around $20 and I have yet to find a better helmet cover on the market.

 

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Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WXB Cycling Pants

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WXB Cycling Pants for rain and bad weather

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WXB Cycling Pants

You might not love riding in the rain, but if your training schedule forces your out in it very often you need to pick up a pair of Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WXB Cycling Pants. These pants are breathable, windproof, waterproof and they have kept me dry in torrential downpours on days when no one in their right mind would be outside.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WXB Cycling Pants are made of a three-layer thermo-regulating laminate fabric. This breathable fabric is 50 percent polyester, 32 percent nylon, and 18 percent nylon. You will find abrasion patches in high wear areas that should keep you from ripping these pants like I’ve done with cheaper rain pants. These pants are sturdy enough for both road and trail use. Since riding in the rain almost always means low-visibility, these pants have 360° reflective elements that really stand out when light hits them. The asymmetrical leg cuffs should keep you from getting your pants caught in the crank. There is also a side adjustable waistband to help you get a good fit. All of the internal seams are taped and totally waterproof.

We need to talk about the fit around the ankles for a moment. These pants have nine-inch waterproof ankle zippers so they will fit over cycling shoes and shoe covers with ease. However, there is not enough room to wear these pants with the cuff on the outside of heavy winter boots. This could cause a problem if plan on wearing these pants as a winter shell—they will do great most of the time, but if you have to walk through deep snow then you could find yourself with wet feet after a while.

If you are looking for the perfect waterproof shoe covers to go with these pants, I would suggest the Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier MTB Shoe Cover. If you need warm winter shoe covers, I would suggest the Planet Bike Blitzen Windproof Shoe Covers.

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WXB Cycling Pants have a retail price of $225, but they are available on Amazon.com for around $160. These pants will probably be one of the most expensive pieces of cycling wear you will ever buy, but they should give you many years of use. This product comes with a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. In case you were wondering, the P.R.O. in the name stand for Performance Race Optimized.

 

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Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier MTB Shoe Cover For Rainy Day Bike Rides

The Chicago area normally has snow on the ground by this time of year, but so far we just keep getting rain! Riding in the rain is one of my least favorite ways to cycle. However, great products like the Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier MTB Shoe Cover make these rides a lot more enjoyable than they would otherwise be.

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier MTB Shoe Cover for rainy day bike rides

Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier MTB Shoe Cover

The Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier MTB Shoe Cover is designed for riding in rainy weather and they work incredibly well! Though they are fleece lined, they are not really intended for cold weather cycling. On a sunny day when the temperature is around 50 degrees you probably wouldn’t even want to use a shoe cover to keep your feet warm (a pair of toe covers will do). However, a rain day with a temperature of 50 degrees can just about freeze you all the way to your bones. If you are wanting to keep your feet dry in the rain, then these covers are for you. If you are looking for a great shoe cover for winter cycling, I would recommend the Planet Bike Blitzen Windproof Shoe Covers.

The Elite Barrier MTB shoe cover is made of 48% neoprene, 24% polyester, 17% nylon, 7% polyurethane, and 2% spandex. The sole is made of a very durable Kevlar so you should not have any trouble walking with this cover on your shoes. This cover also has reflective elements (the Pearl Izumi logo) for low-light visibility. These shoe covers have fairly tall cuffs so they will easily fit under your pant legs if you are riding with rain pants on.

These shoe covers are available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, and XXL). While they are true to size, I would order one size larger than normal just to make them easier to get on. The Velcro strip on the back is very easy to adjust. Like most Pearl Izumi products, this shoe cover is extremely well made and designed.

The Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier MTB Shoe Cover retails for $70, but online retailers like Amazon.com often have it at a considerable discount (I paid $57 for my pair). This product is recommended for mountain bike shoes. If you want a similar cover for your road shoes you should use the Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier WXB Shoe Covers.

 

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The North Face TNF Apex Gloves

If you ride your bike the rain you really need to buy a pair of The North Face TNF Apex Gloves. While these gloves are not cycling-specific, they will do what very few cycling gloves can, i.e., keep your hands warm and dry in the pouring rain.

The North Face TNF Apex Gloves

The North Face TNF Apex Gloves

The North Face TNF Apex Gloves are the best gloves I’ve ever owned for riding in the rain. They are highly water-resistant, breathable and windproof. The first time I rode with these glove the temperature was around 45 degrees (Fahrenheit) and the rain didn’t let up during the entire three-hour ride. I was simply amazed at how comfortable my hands were during the ride—they were warm, but they never got wet and there was no moisture build-up in the gloves when I got home.

The shell for this glove is made of TNF™ Apex ClimateBlock with DWR (durable water-repellent). The interior lining is brushed tricot. The palm has silicone grippers that are fantastic for allowing you to grip the handlebars even in a heavy downpour—I don’t know of any cycling glove that has as good a grip in the rain.

Since The North Face TNF Apex Gloves are not specifically made for cyclists they do have three slight problems. First, you will not find a strip of terry cloth on the thumb to wipe off your sweat. More importantly, they do not have any padding in the palms. However, even after several hours in the saddle with these gloves my hands did not go numb. In addition, they lack any reflective piping like you would normally see on winter cycling gloves.

These gloves are available in four sizes (S, M, L, XL) and The North Face has a sizing chart available on their Website (see link above). The gloves seem to be true to size, but I would suggest you get them in one size larger than you normally wear just to allow a little more air to circulate around your fingers.

You will probably not find The North Face TNF Apex Gloves at any bike shop, but they are available at most sporting good stores, like Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and REI. These gloves retail for around $40, but you can buy them from online merchants like Amazon.com for around $28.

 

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Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights For Winter Biking

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights For Winter Biking

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights

Out of the many fine clothing products for cyclists that Pearl Izumi makes, my absolute favorite is the Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tight. These tights allow you to have a comfortable ride on winter days that aren’t fit for either man nor beast. Though not truly waterproof (but highly water-resistant), these tights do offer fantastic wind, water and ice protection.

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights are designed for extreme weather conditions—I am talking about very cold, wet and windy days. The fabric is very breathable and wicks water away your skin incredibly well. Even after several hours in snow and ice storms these tights kept me dry.

The body of these tights is made of 10% polyurethane, 12% elastane, 41% polyester, and 37% nylon. The 3D Elite chamois is made with a variable density microfiber that wicks moisture away and has active carbon yarns to help reduce odors. This is the same chamois that is found in the Pearl Izumi Elite Cycling Shorts and their Elite Thermal Cycling Tights. I have found this chamois to be very comfortable even on rides over 60 miles or more.

What is the best temperature range to wear these tights in? Some cyclists wear these tights in temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve used them in temperatures down to zero without any problem. At the other end of the scale I find them too warm to wear in temperatures much above freezing, but some people have no problem using them all the way up to 50 degrees. Personally, for temperatures between 28 and 50 degrees I prefer to wear Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights.

The lower leg of these tights has an 8″ zipper with an internal draft flap and zipper garage. Around the inside of the ankles there is a silicone strip to keep the tights in place. Reflective piping, strips and logos make you visible to motorists from just about any angle.

These tights are also available without a chamois and in a bib. Most people will tell you that bibs keep you warmer than tights but I really haven’t had any trouble keeping warm even in temperatures down to zero. Besides, if you are out on a bike trail in ten degree weather and have to answer the call of nature while in bibs you will need to look at your driver’s license just to remember your gender (if you catch my drift).

Theses tights seem to be true to size, providing you use the sizing guide found on the Pearl Izumi Website (the size guide on Amazon.com has no connection with reality). The Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tight (with 3D chamois) has a suggested list price of $155, but you can buy them from Amazon.com for around $105. Once you’ve had a chance to try these tights out I am certain you will think they were worth every penny you paid for them.

 

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Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

The Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover allows you to wear your summer cycling shoes in temperatures well below freezing. Cleat openings on the bottom of the cover make it compatible with most pedal systems used in both road and MTB shoes (I’ve used these covers with Look Keo, Shimano SPD and Crank Brothers Egg Beater cleats).

Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover

I used these covers on at least 20 rides last year that were longer than three hours each and they kept my feet warm down to around 20 degrees. I need to mention that this protection was provided with the aid of some nice wool cycling socks and Grabber Toe Warmers Heating Packs (these disposable warmers cost about a dollar a pair and are available on Amazon.com and at most sporting goods stores).

Garneau’s Website claims this cover “protects your feet from the wet and extremely cold temperatures,” and this mostly true. You should not have any trouble wearing these covers in snow or light rain, but they are not waterproof—your feet will get wet in a heavy rain. These covers also give great protection from the wind.

This shoe cover is made from 3-mm neoprene and closes in the back with a thick strip of Velcro. There are several shoe covers on the market that close with a zipper and I have not had much success with any of them. The reflective logos on this shoe cover add some visibility, but because of their position on the top of the cover I don’t think this is much of a selling point.

The Louis Garneau Neo Protect Cycling Shoe Cover is available in four sizes: Small (39-41), Medium (41.5-43), Large (43.5-45), XL (45.5-50). The sizing on these covers is good, but I would recommend you buy a size larger than you normally wear so you can get them on easier. This product retails for $20 and is certainly worth the price.

 

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Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire

The beauty of having several bicycles is that you can configure your older bikes for riding in inclement weather. I’ve outfitted one of my older road bikes specifically for riding in the rain and light snow. In addition to fenders, reflective tape and a few mechanical adjustments, I added a pair of Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tires.

Continental Touring Plus road bike tires are lightweight, puncture resistant and have an aggressive enough tread pattern to make it easy to ride in the rain. I bought a pair of these tires (700X28) and have them inflated to the maximum recommended pressure, which is 100psi. My “sunny day” road bike is a Trek Madone with Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase tires inflated to 120psi. Surprisingly, the ride on the Continental tires is very similar to the Race Lite tires, even though there is a substantial difference in tire pressure.

Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire

Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire (note the reflective stripe)

I’ve put around 2,000 miles on these tires and all of them have been in the rain or light snow. As you probably already know, rain has a tendency to bring all sorts of debris up to the surface. Even with the road debris these tires felt very secure on the road. I have also found these tires to give decent traction in light snow.

One of my favorite features of this tire is the highly visible reflective sidewall. Riding in the rain almost always means you are also riding in low-light conditions. The reflective sidewall on this tire is incredible! I wish every bicycle tire had this feature. After 2,000 miles in the rain and snow the reflective stripe on the sidewall looks rather dingy when it is in my garage, but it still shines bright when an automobile headlight hits it.

Tread On The Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire

Tread On The Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire

In addition to the 700×28 tires, Continental Touring Plus road bike tires are also available in several other sizes, including: 24×1.75, 26×1.75, 28×1.25, 28×1.5, and 28×1.75. The 700×28 tires retail for around $45, but several online shops offer them for around $37. However, consider the cost of shipping you might be better off buying them from your local bike shop.

 

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DZ Nuts InHeat Low Heat Embrocation Cream

DZ Nuts InHeat Low Heat Embrocation Cream

DZ Nuts InHeat Low Heat Embrocation Cream

Those of us who live in the Upper Midwest have already had a few fairly cool mornings and have had to decide whether to put on knee warmers for our morning rides. I try to put off wearing knee or leg warmers as long as possible, so I started using DZ Nuts InHeat Low Heat Embrocation Cream on my legs before I ride and have been very happy with the results.

Embrocation creams contain vasodilators that warm up the skin and muscles. They also create a weather-proof barrier that protects your skin from the elements. The company Website says this particular cream was “developed and tested on the European roads by Garmin Transitions and Columbia HTC professional cycling teams to be an essential training and racing tool.” For many of us, embrocation creams are them main reason we shave our legs (just don’t shave your legs on the same day you use an embrocation cream).

If you have never used an embrocation cream before you are probably wondering how this product works. About 15 minutes before you go out for a ride on brisk day you massage this cream into the exposed areas of your legs. It will take several minutes for you to feel the cream working, but once it does you will feel the warmth and be able to ride for several hours in cool weather without having your legs cramp up from the cold.

When your ride is finished you will be pleasantry surprised that the cream did not pick up road grime as you might have expected. I’ve used this cream on long off-road rides on dusty trails and haven’t  had much dust stick to my legs.

It has been my experience that the greatest amount of heat is felt once your ride is finished. While you are riding in the cool weather you don’t really feel the cream working, but then again, you aren’t feeling the cool air on your legs either. Once you put your bike up and go inside you can feel your legs getting warmer and this will keep your muscles from getting tight after a ride. The DZ Nuts InHeat Embrocation Cream washes off easily with just soap and water, but you can still feel it a bit even after you are out of the shower.

One important word of advice: Make sure you put this cream on your legs after you have put your cycling shorts on! If you put the cream on your legs first and then pull your cycling shorts up some of the cream will stick to your chamois. This cream has capsicum in it (think red-hot chili peppers and police pepper spray). If the capsicum comes in contact with your nads you are going to experience a level of pain that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay never even dreamed about (I speak from experience—and a very painful one at that).

DZ Nuts InHeat Embrocation Cream comes in three strengths (low, medium and high). The low heat cream is good for rides down to around 50 degrees. I’ve not used the other creams yet, but I am certain I will before the winter is out (I ride all year long). A six-ounce tube retails for around $20, but you can find it cheaper on Amazon.com. You should be able to get 15 or 20 rides out of a single tube.

In case you were wondering, the “DZ” in DZNuts is for cycling legend David Zabriskie.

 

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Planet Bike Grunge Board (Down Tube Grunge Guard)

I won’t say that I actually enjoy riding in the rain, but I seem to spend of lot of time doing it. The worst part of riding in the rain is the cleanup—whether you ride for 30 minutes or three hours you are going to have to spend some time cleaning and oiling your bike afterwards. Most of my rainy-day rides are on an off-road bike trail (I am not a commuter), and off-road trails kick up an unbelievable amount of grit, grime and sand. The Planet Bike Grunge Board will not entirely eliminate the mess created by riding in the rain or snow, but it certainly does cut it down to manageable levels.

Planet Bike Gunge Board

Planet Bike Grunge Board

The Planet Bike Grunge Board attaches to the down tube of your bike with two rubber straps. I always hate to use the phrase “easy to install,” but a trained monkey could put this on your bike in under thirty seconds. My oldest bike is a Trek 4300 mountain bike with aggressive knobby tires and I keep the Grunge Board on it all the time. In the winter I take the knobby tires off and install steel studded snow tires (I do enjoy riding in the snow). Since I only ride the Trek 4300 in inclement weather I also have fenders installed on it and the Grunge Board picks up where the fenders leave off.

The Grunge Board is made of an all-weather polymer material and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. However, I don’t see how anything could ever go wrong with the Grunge Board unless you get run over by a Humvee.

The Planet Bike Grunge Board retails for $12, but you can buy it online for around $9 from several retailers. I purchased mine from a local REI store and if your ride in the rain or snow you ought to give it a try.

 

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JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch

Every once in a while you find a cycling product and you know instantly you must have it. When I saw an ad for JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouches I ordered three pouches immediately, and when they arrived a few days later it took all of 30 seconds to realize they were exactly what I needed.

JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch

JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch

JerseyBins are lightweight, waterproof pouches that fit perfectly in your back jersey pocket. JerseyBins are constructed of 10 gauge vinyl and, depending on the size, the vinyl will either be frosty clear or polished clear. They have round corners so they will not snag your jersey, and they close with a zip-lock style zipper. Several sizes are available, including: 4″ x 5-3/4″, 3-3/4″ x 7″, and 4-3/4″ x 7″. The Limited Edition Mini Bin (4″ x 5-3/4″) is perfect for an Apple iPhone because it is not only protects it from the elements, but you can still use the phone while it is in the case (just don’t try to take a photograph through the vinyl).

My iPhone is always in a very thin polycarbonate shell. However, the display is not covered so when cycling I always want to carry it in a weatherproof case. I tried the OtterBox Defender Case, but it is a royal pain to get the iPhone into the case and another pain to get it back out. I also tried several other iPhone cases and all of them made my iPhone sag at the bottom of my jersey pocket and none of them were waterproof. JerseyBins solve both problems—the case is waterproof and it’s designed to keep your back pocket from sagging because it spreads out the weight of the iPhone (or any other cell phone) better than any other case I’ve tried.

I had only been using a JerseyBin for a few days before I got caught out in a heavy rain and I am happy to report that it worked perfectly. This bin is going to be great for winter cycling as well. In the winter I wear a lightweight shell over my inner layers of clothing (I ride in temperatures all the way down to zero). If you carry a phone inside your jacket during the winter the screen will get fogged up and impossible to read because the high humidity level inside the jacket. The JerseyBin will allow you carry your cellphone inside your jacket and still be able to see it when you want to use it.

At the moment I am using a small JerseyBin since I spend most of the summer cycling on the road and only need to carry my iPhone, a $20 bill and a couple of business cards inside the case. In the fall and winter I will use a larger JerseyBin because I carry a few more items with me when cycling off-road and in the snow.

JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch

JerseyBins Are Available With Custom Imprinting

JerseyBins are also available with custom printing. If you are a cycling promoter (races, bike shows, etc.) I would urge you to consider passing out JerseyBins at your next event. Let’s face it, we all have enough water bottles already and most of the cheap ones cycling promoters pass out are never used anyway. JerseyBins are a product that every cyclist will want and they should last (and promote your event) for several years.

JerseyBins are available from the JerseyBin Website and are extremely low-priced, starting at just $5.25 for the smallest size and up to $6.50 for the largest.

 

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